The Los Angeles Lakers are not only fighting to keep their heads above water, they’re also fighting for their future. While the Lakers are trying to usher in a new era, they are doing so knowing they could be a season away from another title run. With rumors running rampant that Paul George and possibly LeBron James will head to L.A. in the summer of 2018, the Lakers are trying to shed valuable cap space. And, by doing so, that may mean getting rid of Jordan Clarkson.
Clarkson, mentioned in trade talks dating back to last season has been coy about the rumors according to Lakers Nation. The whispers got louder once the Lakers traded away his friend D’Angelo Russell then those same whispers became yells when the Lakers signed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope this summer. For whatever reason, Luke Walton believed that Pope gave the Lakers a better chance and placed him in the starting lineup. Well, depending on how you look it, that move might have backfired on the Lakers.
With Caldwell-Pope inserted into the starting lineup, Clarkson has become the Eric Gordon of the Lakers. What the Lakers were hoping for, Clarkson has given them, however, no one else is providing the same intensity. Clarkson has become the Lakers biggest joy and problem all in one season.
Clarkson is averaging 15.8 points (best on the team) but doing so in only 22 minutes of action. As a sixth man, his one job is to provide offense and Clarkson has done so by hoisting up 12.5 attempts (most on the team) per game. But, this is where the Lakers must think hard. The team was designed to fall under the guidance of Lonzo Ball and Brook Lopez but both players have struggled in their first year with the Lakers. To make matters worse, Julius Randle is on the trade block, Larry Nance Jr. is injured, and Caldwell-Pope is the same inconsistent player the Detroit Pistons let walk out the door.
In the beginning of the season, it was understandable why the Lakers would want to trade Clarkson, however, it’s clear now that he’s their best player. As I stated earlier, what Clarkson has done could be viewed as a gift and a curse for the Lakers. He’s proving how valuable he is but in doing so, and with the other players struggling, the Lakers actually need Clarkson. Lonzo Ball has not played with consistency, Caldwell-Pope left his shooting stroke in Detroit, and Lopez has switched bodies with his offensive-deprived twin brother. While Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma have been solid, it’s been Clarkson who has been consistent. How do you trade that away?
The Lakers have a decision to make. Do they hope for Clarkson’s continued success or wish his play declines to prove they were on the right track this offseason with their decision-making?
[Featured Image by Harry How/Getty Images]